Labour focus on high street.

14th June 2023

A pledge by shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds comes as new analysis from Labour shows more than 6,000 pubs have shut since the Conservatives took power. In the south east, 1,000 pubs have been lost since 2010, while the south west saw 730 pub closures.

London, the north east and Northern Ireland had the least closures, losing 330, 110 and 220 respectively. Labour said UK high streets have been “battered” by a “perfect storm” of rising costs and outdated business rates.

Reynolds said: “Hospitality is where people spend their hard earned money and use the services we value in our day-to-day lives. Keir [Starmer’s] mission to make the UK the highest sustained growing economy in the G7 won’t be judged by us by looking at figures on a spreadsheet. It will be judged by how our high streets look and feel, by working people having more money at the end of the month to treat themselves and their families, and by pubs, shops and restaurants thriving, investing and growing.”

Reynolds renewed Labour’s pledge to reform business rates, which he said are an “outdated, archaic system”. He promised to “rebalance the burden between bricks and clicks”, ensuring online tech companies pay their fair share in order to create “vibrant high streets people want to socialise in”.

According to Labour’s analysis, plans to reform business rates for small businesses would save the average pub or cafe £2,600 each. Reynolds has previously set out that Labour would increase the threshold for small business rates relief in 2023-24, paid for by raising the digital services tax paid by online giants like Amazon.